Creating a viable online business

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Date: 22 July 2021

Female owner with digital tablet standing behind sales desk of a florists

It's quite easy to set up an online business these days. The trick is in growing a viable, long-lasting business which survives. For that, you need customers who are willing to spend cash, as well as a great outreach to ensure new customers flock to your website.

The sad truth is that around 50% of all businesses fail within their first five years. It's clear that some businesses enjoy early success but remaining viable longer term is a challenge. You'll face multiple competitors vying for the same customer basis, as well as innovative ideas coming from new start ups and older businesses. Keeping on top of the game is tough, but there are steps you can take to help keep the odds in your favour. Remember, each business will go about things in a different way and what works for one might not work for all.

Focus on finance before you start up

Many entrepreneurs get carried away with their great idea and launch their website before it's truly ready. Don't go live until you know exactly where your finances stand. You'll be surprised how quickly things add up, and you might be shocked when costs come out of nowhere. You need to save sufficient cash and allow an additional 10% for unforeseen costs. You can find help using money-saving guides from LatestDeals or by compiling your own budget.

Pay attention to all the costs you need to cover. Think about web hosting, security, and web design. Marketing will be important too. Do not pull the trigger too soon or it could cost you dearly. Thorough preparation and planning before you launch will give you the best chance of success. It all comes down to in-depth financial research, and the ability to be patient.

Create evergreen content

If you're creating a product or service-based business, you should ensure your blog is full of helpful, evergreen content. Essentially, content that will be just as readable and relevant in a few years, as it is now. You might create tools, blog posts, videos, or images but just try to ensure that it's evergreen. If you don't have the time, or lack the skills, hire someone to help you out. Your content will, over time, rank if written well. Your ranking shouldn't drop if it's pertinent no matter when it's read. You can get around the problem of subjects that are difficult to make evergreen by updating the content with up-to-date facts and figures or additional news snippets which can keep it relevant and current.

Manage your time

As your business grows, you'll find that you need to manage different aspects of your business. Each aspect will eat into your time and if you've just started out it might be hard to properly outsource. You need to learn to manage your time if you want your business to be viable in the future. This is especially the case if you're launching your business while still working full time, which is what a lot of people tend to do.

Make the most of your available time. Try to stop procrastinating and ensure you get the work done. Try setting goals or carving out chunks of time for specific tasks. Learn to prioritise and make sure you work through your list in order of importance. Once you've mastered the art of time management your productivity will increase, and your business will reap the rewards. If you end up recruiting people down the line, or using freelancers, you need to direct their time so that it's spent in the right places. Play to their strengths, just as you play to yours.

How has the industry changed?

It's hard to predict how your industry will evolve. If you're setting up an online business, it's important to do your research. Check up on your competitors. What changes have they made over the last few months. Are they branching into different products or services and, if so, can you make a change to your own website?

You need to make sure you launch your business at the right time and that it's viable into the future. You don't want to open a video rental store just as Netflix launches. An extreme analogy, but it gets the point across. Be careful, and make sure there will be a market for your online business for years to come, not just over the next few months.

Be wary of fad business ideas, products, and models, and be sure the industry has room for a new entrant. By the time you've scaled and grown, things might just have moved on. That's a problem many single-product businesses have faced over the years.

Plan your advertising strategy

You'll need to promote your business in one way or another. Whether you're looking for an Instagram influencer to push your site or product, or traditional Google ads, you need to know how you'll attract custom. You might consider playing the long game and using SEO to pull people in organically, which of course can work if you have the time.

Get yourself set up. There's no point advertising a page that doesn't look its best and isn't inviting. If you're selling a product, make sure you set up brilliant Shopify product pages or WooCommerce descriptions to ensure you convert site visitors that have clicked through from advertisements. If you don't, you're wasting money. Your business won't be viable long term if you don't set out a clear advertising strategy and ensure that your pages are in tip top condition.

Copyright 2021. This article was made possible by Jeremy Bowler.

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